Chest X-Ray

What you can expect

A chest X-ray is performed in your doctor’s office or the hospital, and a radiology technician conducts the actual test. The process for a chest X-ray is as follows:

  1. You’ll wear a medical gown and be asked to remove all jewelry and objects containing metal.
  2. The technician will use a lead apron or shield to cover areas that could be exposed to radiation but aren’t part of the area to be imaged.
  3. You’ll be asked to stand in front of the X-ray machine.
  4. While the X-ray is taken, you’ll be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds to keep the image from blurring.


Medical tests, including chest X-rays, shouldn’t be ordered unless they can provide information unavailable through simpler, safer methods. While the exposure to radiation (including X-rays) is worthy of concern, the amount of radiation exposure in a chest X-ray is minimal. A single chest X-ray exposes patients to about the same amount of radiation that they're exposed to in nature, with ultraviolet radiation (sun exposure) over the course of about 10 days.1 A few X-rays a year aren't believed to cause harm. However, if you’re pregnant, notify your doctor, as X-rays aren’t typically performed on pregnant patients because of the risk to the baby.